National Lampoon’s latest parody of the family-friendly 1990s sitcom, Full House brings both looks and gut-wrenching laughter to the Randolph Theatre for a limited engagement with Full House the Musical! A Tanner Family Parody! Prior to its New York run at Theatre 80, creators Bob and Tobly McSmith treat audiences to an ultimately unconventional Tanner family spinoff starring celebrity gossip queen, Perez Hilton. Packed full of classic sitcom references and exaggerations, this production will have you gagging till the bees come home.
For those new to the genre of parody, one rule exists: take nothing seriously. Everything from Mary-Kate’s cocaine addiction to throwback television commercials are both mocked and strangely celebrated at the same time. Those unfamiliar with the many jabs referencing anything from eating disorders to homosexual references will need a quick Full House 101, but you don’t need to know everything to laugh.
The entire family is united and yet divided due to the monotonous script. Where some of the scenarios and parodies became a little too incomprehensible or over-the-top, you could always count on Seth Blum to bring it back with his outgoing portrayals of Kimmy Gibbler and Uncle Joey. Everyone from Hilton’s outrageous portrayal of Danny Tanner to Bridget Russell Kennedy’s upfront play on feminism with Rebecca Donaldson provided momentous performances. Amanda Nicholas, Marguerite Halcovage and Marshall Louise playing DJ, Stephanie and The Olsen Twins remained enthusiastic and purely rehearsed from beginning to end. John Duff’s sight-worthy role as Uncle Jesse accompanied by his ever-so-tight pants provided for complete mercy from the often tedious plot points as the show progressed.
While the performances have audiences completely hooked thanks to Jason Wise’s fantastic choreography and direction, the script leaves less to the cast. Much of the material felt far too recycled with many quips and quirks being continually overused. Although clever and packed full of inside humour, the majority of content became too much to engage with.
The McSmiths' witty and downright devious inclusion of Kimmy Gibbler was accurately timed, always wet and never dry. Gibbler’s character engagement should serve as the perfect timing template when it comes to script development. Don’t get me wrong, the show is funny and the music is swell - but holocaust ‘jokes’ just never sit well.
Bryan Hartlett’s scenic design is tawdry and cheap but harmonizes well with the Randolph’s atmosphere. The set pieces are both multifunctional and minimalistic, but require more thought in both the technicalities and aesthetic of stagecraft. For a successful New York run, the technical elements of both writing and visual aesthetic require work in order to parallel perfectly with that of Hilton’s personality onstage. You will laugh, though – catch it while you can!
Full House the Musical! A Tanner Family Parody! runs at the Randolph Theatre until Sept. 6. For more information visit http://www.fullhousethemusical.com/.